EUROISPA has published a position paper on online child exploitation. The paper contains three key arguments:
1. Full support for professionally operated hotline:
- Governments should concentrate on developing a clear legal and judicial framework.
- The public must play an essential role in the reporting to the police or local hotlines of suspected child sexual abuse material as ISPs cannot in any way monitor the Internet.
- Hotlines’ network should be further developed within the European Union and promoted abroad.
2. International cooperation in the fight against child sexual abuse material should be increased:
- International processes for mutual legal assistance are too slow, or sometimes non-existent.
- Stringent procedure should be set up through international agreements to ensure that immediate action is taken to remove illegal content at source while making sure that evidence are preserved for police investigation.
- European Union should use its diplomatic relationships to clearly define best practices mechanisms and create a harmonised international procedure against child sexual abuse material
3. Removal and elimination of illegal content at source is the only approach to effectively and sustainably help in the protection of victims while strongly contributing to successful criminal prosecution.
The biggest problem here is that it is highly unlikely that illegal material relating to child abuse is hosted within the EU. It needs a concerted global effort on the scale of the United Nations. Many such sites are run in facilites owned by international criminal organisations – it is said that there are 7 ISPs in the world owned by organised crime. I don’t know who they are.
In anycase it doesn’t take much to set up a hosting facility. At the basic level a computer in a back bedroom attached to a broadband line would do the job and if this was located in a back street in Kazakhstan (and not particularly picking on the Kazakhs – I just picked a far away country which the EU has little day to day relations) it would be extremely difficult to track down and remove.
Read the EUROISPA paper here. I agree with them that the EU needs to take the lead here.
In the UK we have the Internet Watch Foundation which does an excellent job as far as it goes in protecting people from accessing illegal online material pertaining to child exploitation. The previous government also set up the United Kingdom Committee for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). This seems to have gone quiet but perhaps it is just because I haven’t been keeping in the loop.